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Panasonic TX-32LZD81 review

Freesat direct from an LCD, but the picture isn't spectacular

Our Verdict

Certainly great integration of Freesat HD, but the picture performance could be better


  • Good connectivity
  • Outstanding pictures
  • Full HD pixel count


  • Very minor flicker over some fast-moving edges

The Panasonic TX-32LZD81's main selling point is its ability to receive all of Freesat's channels (including the HD ones) without the need for an external receiver box.

But it's also rather nice to find that despite its relatively small size, the TV carries a full HD resolution designed to get the best from those BBC and ITV HD broadcasts.

We were also pleased to find a Freeview tuner onboard alongside the Freesat one, for there are still a few channels on the former that you can't get on the latter. There's full EPG support for both delivery platforms, too.

Built-in Freesat

The good times continue to roll with the 32LZD81's connections, which include three v1.3 HDMI inputs and an SD memory card slot so that you can play digital photos directly onto the screen.

Some people may be disappointed there aren't four HDMIs, but don't forget that the built-in Freesat tuner that would normally use one of the inputs is already catered for.

Other notable features include a 1080p/24fps Blu-ray mode that (according to Panasonic's technical notes) doubles the TV's refresh rate to 48Hz; V-Audio surround processing; and a dynamic backlight system giving rise to a claimed 10000:1 contrast ratio.

Clear menu system

It's hard to imagine how the potential complexity of having analogue, Freeview and Freesat tuners in a single TV could have been handled any more efficiently than it is by the TX-32LZD81's superb onscreen menus and remote control. The EPGs, in particular, are clear and concise.

If you don't already have a Sky dish installed, there's obviously the hassle of getting a satellite dish erected at your property.

Lacklustre black levels

Although the TX-32LZD81's LCD pictures are good, they lack the sort of relative sparkle found on Panasonic's plasma sets. The main reason is that the black level response isn't particularly great. Dark scenes are afflicted by a blue-grey undertone that prevents parts of the picture from looking really black.

We've certainly seen far worse offenders in this area, but we've also seen a few rival LCD screens fare better, and Panasonic's Freesat plasma screens are so far ahead on black level that it's not even worth comparing them.

Another lesser reason for us not being able to really enthuse about the TX-32LZD81's pictures is the appearance of marginal traces of motion blur not found on Panasonic's 100Hz LCD TVs. The blur is particularly apparent when watching standard definition, but it's occasionally also present with HD images too.

Full-on HD pictures

Happily, from here on in the news is all good. Probably the biggest highlight of the picture performance is its extreme clarity when showing HD. Even though the screen is relatively small at 32in, you can clearly appreciate the worth of the full HD pixel count in the way Blu-ray discs and Freesat HD broadcasts look immaculately clean and extensively detailed.

Colours generally impress too, thanks to their extreme vibrancy and full saturations. There's excellent subtlety in the blends as well, through a combination of the TV's processing and the pixel density made possible by the full HD resolution. Tones are likeably natural for most of the time too, except for where the blue undertone gets in the way during dark scenes.

One final piece of credit goes to the Panasonic TX32LZD81's standard-def performance: it reproduces all but the roughest of digital broadcasts with a sharpness and freedom from noise that's very unusual among full HD LCD TVs.

Powerful sound

The days of really audio from Panasonic LCD TVs appear to be over, thankfully. The Panasonic TX-32LZD81 has easily enough clarity and dynamic range to deliver all but the most full-blooded of action scenes with confidence and power.

We guess £800 doesn't seem like a totally unrealistic amount to pay for a 32in TV with a genuinely unique and useful feature on board. It would have been nice, though, if Panasonic had thrown 100Hz into the package too.

John Archer

AV Technology Contributor

John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.